Resistance to treatment is one of the biggest issues when treating glioblastoma. The addition of a new inhibitor to the process could make the tumors far more susceptible to treatment and drastically improve success rates.
According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, more than 24,000 new cases of malignant glioblastoma are discovered each year in the United States, making it one of the most common primary brain tumors. Because of its aggressive nature, the median survival rate for patients is just 14 months, so finding better therapy courses is a priority.
One current treatment option recommended for brain cancer works by effectively preventing the tumor from accessing blood vessels by targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), thus cutting off its supply of energy and oxygen.
Initial results were somewhat underwhelming until researchers identified another platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) that was being used by the tumor to protect itself. The cancer was mutating the endothelial cells, making them resistant to anti-VEGF therapies. Inhibiting this PDGF/NF-κB/Snail pathway stopped the tumor endothelial cells from transforming, rendering the cancer vulnerable.
“This could be the key to solving the biggest problem in the field of anti-vascular cancer therapies” said assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn Yi Fan, MD, Ph.D. “Tumors are highly resistant to anti-VEGF therapies alone, but our study shows the flaw is in the current treatment, not the concept itself”.
The study opens up some very promising opportunities and could become an important stepping stone for new and improved cancer treatment therapies.